I have a lump in my throat and tears sitting at the rim of my eyes as I type this. When you have something like paranoid schizophrenia and you constantly hear that it is one of the most severe of the mental illnesses, you don’t expect anything good to come of that diagnosis.
But something good has come. I was contacted twice on Facebook yesterday by people I don’t know. Both of the people had read my recent article in The Mighty – one had a daughter who is currently being evaluated in order to determine her diagnosis, and the other person has schizophrenia. Both of these people said they found comfort and hope in my words.
Every night around bedtime I try to think of a blog for the next day. Once I have an idea, I begin to relax and think of sentences I would like to work on in the morning. When I am busy doing this, something I love, it never occurs to me that it is possible that my words will be read by someone who is struggling with their own mental illness, or someone who is afraid of what having a mental illness means, or someone who is sick with worry about their child who is starting to develop symptoms. I don’t know who exactly my words will reach or be read by or how they will be received. I simply try to come up with an idea I feel is interesting to write about.
I know when you or a loved one gets a diagnosis you want to know all you can about that diagnosis. You want to know the survival rate, the best medicines, the risks, the symptoms – you want to know the prognosis. Is it good?
You search the Internet for answers. You stumble upon a blog. It is the blog of a woman who has lived with paranoid schizophrenia for over two decades. She worked most of her adult life, she is married. She has symptoms every day but she manages, and most importantly, at fifty, she is back in school training for a new career –one that she can honestly do despite her struggles. And there is this, she is happy. Yes, there it is, written all over her posts – she cherishes the life she has been given.
My life has its battles and its imperfections but it is the only life I have and I don’t want to give it up or give it back. It’s mine. I’ll make it the best that I can. And I’m here to encourage you to do the same. I hope this reaches all of you who are terrified of schizophrenia. There is hope, and hope is your best protection in the storm – never lose it or the wind and rain can overtake you.